“The Best Advice I Ever Got”

17 Oct

After eight months of a grueling, non-stop search, I was finally offered a job on Friday.  On Saturday, I turned it down.  Why?

Let’s backtrack a couple weeks, to when I attended a fundraising dinner for the literacy council that I volunteer with.  I sat next to a 31 year old woman named Giselle, and we giggled like schoolgirls through the whole dinner.

Giselle asked me about my goals.  I told her that I wanted to work in education, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a teacher, an administrator, or work in policy.   I told her how much I wanted to leave Florida and live in Boston or New York, but I was getting to the point where I felt like giving up and staying here.  Then I told her about my five year plan, and how it was falling apart.  She completely understood what I was going through.

Please God, no.

“I was just there, I remember being 23 and not knowing what to do with my life, or how to do it,” Giselle told me.  “Let me pass on the best advice I ever got when I was your age.  It’s okay to have goals, but don’t put a timeframe on them, otherwise you’ll just be severely disappointed when it doesn’t happen.  And you gotta do what you really want to do: if you want to live in Boston, go for it, don’t settle.  Why should you settle if that’s what you really want?”

Giselle was absolutely right–this was great advice.  When I got offered a 10 hour/week job working for an organization that was not related to education, I was ready to take it.  And even though it felt good to finally get hired somewhere, I knew that I was settling, even if I told myself that it was only temporary.  Regardless, I called up the director, Mena, and told her I wanted the position (albeit with a two to three month deadline).

Mena and I got along really well in my interview, and though there was a significant age difference, we felt like two peas in a pod.  She could sense that I was going through some kind of emotional struggle, and she asked me what it was that I was really thinking, and what I really wanted to do.  I told her education is my passion.  I told her that there are some private schools that, if you work for them, will help pay for grad school.  I told her I may want to go to grad school in a year.   Mena said that’s where she wanted to see me too, even if it meant I couldn’t work for her.  She encouraged me to find work in a fabulous private school for the spring term.  In the end, she helped me figure out that this job wasn’t the best move for me.  We bid each other farewell and good luck.

I think the one good thing about small towns, besides the abundance of drugs and antique car shows, is the people.  There are plenty of people who are friendly and willing to give you (good) unsolicited advice.  Even though you’re a stranger, they still want to help.  Giselle and Mena hardly knew me, and their wisdom cost them little to impart, but it was incredibly valuable and much appreciated.

These women helped me figure out my next steps; I think I owe to them to follow through, and then pass on that same generosity when I get to a respectably employed adult and not some clueless 23 year old.


One Response to ““The Best Advice I Ever Got””

  1. Junia October 19, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    In the words of Michael Scott to Jim Halpert, ” Bfd. Engaged ain’t married. Never ever give up!”…well at least take the last four words to heart 😛
    I’m proud of you for sticking to your ultimate goal. That must have been hard to turn down the job offer!

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